Links 2/2/2022

99 million-year-old flowers found perfectly preserved in amber bloomed at the feet of dinosaurs CNN

Now that’s a BIG shock! World’s longest lightning bolt lasted for 8.5 seconds and stretched more than 477 MILES across the skies over Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi – 37 miles longer than the previous record Daily Mail

Google parent Alphabet posts surge in search advertising revenue FT


Inequitable patterns of US flood risk in the Anthropocene Nature (Re Silc).

(Map shows average annual loss (AAL) by US county, with losses expressed as a proportion of the total value.)

Why is the EU’s green investment label for nuclear and gas so controversial? Euronews

What is the EU’s ‘taxonomy’ for sustainable finance, and will states agree on it? China Dialogue


What We Can Learn From How the 1918 Pandemic Ended NYT. “The only thing certain is that future variants, if they are to be successful, will elude immune protection. They could become more dangerous. That was the case not only in 1920 with the last gasp of the 1918 virus, but also in the 1957, 1968 and 2009 influenza pandemics.” Let ‘er rip!

We’re Not ‘Back to Normal’ (interview) Julia Raifman, Democracy Journal

The Off-Rampers Need to Get Specific, or Else Just Shut Up Mike the Mad Biologist

A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality (PDF) Studies in Applied Economics (Re Silc). “Lockdowns are defined as the imposition of at least one compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI). NPIs are any government mandate that directly restrict peoples’ possibilities, such as policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel…. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. [Shelter-In-Place Orders] were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.” That definition of “lockdown” seems a little tendentious to me. The authors are interesting. Propagated instantly.

* * *

SARS-CoV-2 invades cognitive centers of the brain and induces Alzheimer’s-like neuropathology (preprint) bioRxiv. From the Abstract: “SARS-CoV-2 infects mature but not immature neurons derived from inducible pluripotent stem cells from healthy and Alzheimers individuals through its receptor ACE2 and facilitator neuropilin-1. SARS-CoV-2 triggers Alzheimers-like gene programs in healthy neurons and exacerbates Alzheimers neuropathology. A gene signature defined as an Alzheimers infectious etiology is identified through SARS-CoV-2 infection, and silencing the top three downregulated genes in human primary neurons recapitulates the neurodegenerative phenotypes of SARS-CoV-2. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 invades the brain and activates an Alzheimers-like program.” n=5, but human brain tissue is thin on the ground. Anecdotage-ally (GM):

Thank you, Alberta Health Services!

Multiple Early Factors Anticipate Post-Acute COVID-19 Sequelae Cell (AB). n = 309. From the Abstract: “We executed a deep multi-omic, longitudinal investigation of 309 COVID-19 patients from initial diagnosis to convalescence (2-3 months later), integrated with clinical data, and patient-reported symptoms. We resolved four PASC-anticipating risk factors at the time of initial COVID-19 diagnosis: type 2 diabetes, SARS-CoV-2 RNAemia, Epstein-Barr virus viremia, and specific autoantibodies.” PASC = post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 (“long Covid”).

Vaccines Elicit Highly Conserved Cellular Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Nature. From the Abtract: “Here we show that cellular immunity induced by current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines is highly conserved to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Spike. Individuals who received Ad26.COV2.S or BNT162b2 vaccines demonstrated durable Spike-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses, which showed extensive cross-reactivity against both the Delta and Omicron variants, including in central and effector memory cellular subpopulations. Median Omicron Spike-specific CD8+ T cell responses were 82-84% of WA1/2020 Spike-specific CD8+ T cell responses. These data provide immunologic context for the observation that current vaccines still show robust protection against severe disease with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant despite the substantially reduced neutralizing antibody responses.”

COVID-19 human challenge study reveals detailed insights into infection (press release) Imperial College London (original). n = 36. The subjects were “challenged” with a pre-Alpha SARS-COV-2 virus:

Among the 18 infected participants, the average time from first exposure to the virus to viral detection and early symptoms (incubation period) was 42 hours, significantly shorter than existing estimates, which put the average incubation period at 5-6 days.

Following this period there was a steep rise in the amount of virus (viral load) found in swabs taken from participants’ nose or throat.

These levels peaked at around five days into infection on average, but high levels of viable (infectious) virus were still picked up in lab tests up to nine days after inoculation on average, and up to a maximum of 12 days for some, supporting the isolation periods advocated in most guidelines.

There were also differences in where the most virus was found. While the virus was detected first in the throat, significantly earlier than in the nose (40 hours in the throat compared to 58 hours in the nose), levels were lower and peaked sooner in the throat.

Peak levels of virus were significantly higher in the nose than in the throat, indicating a potentially greater risk of virus being shed from the nose than the mouth. This highlights the importance of proper facemask use to cover both the mouth and nose.

* * *

A Consensus Statement on SARS-CoV-2 Aerosol Dynamics OSF Preprints (BH). A response to this preprint (“Oswin”). Key paragraph: “Oswin et al. present results of a study using an established scientific method to gain mechanistic insights into the survival of viruses in air. All mechanistic laboratory studies are by necessity models approximating the real world, e.g. regarding the aerosol composition, particle size, or viral load.” Readers know my priors on models; that’s why I never linked to Oswin.

School Daze New York Magazine. Plexiglass in school-rooms:

No leadership or messaging on this from CDC, naturally.

The British Medical Journal Story That Exposed Politicized “Fact-Checking” (excerpt) Matt Taibbi, TK News. BMJ on Pfizer whistleblower. Excerpt, but works as standalone.


US says ‘clear’ China hasn’t met trade deal commitments, with ‘unflinchingly honest’ talks ongoing South China Morning Post

Closed China: why Xi Jinping is sticking with his zero-Covid policy FT. Why indeed:

To justify the harsh zero-Covid controls, leaders point to an influential study from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, published in November, which warned that if the country followed the opening up strategies taken by countries such as the UK and the US, it would cause hundreds of thousands of cases a day, of which more than 10,000 would present severe symptoms if there was a sizeable community outbreak.

“We are not ready to embrace ‘open-up’ strategies resting solely on the hypothesis of herd immunity induced by vaccination advocated by certain western countries,” the authors wrote.

China Should Step Up Support to the Economy, IMF Says Caixin Global. The IMF is recommending social spending (!). Commentary:

China pours money into Iraq as US retreats from Middle East FT

Tonga goes into lockdown; COVID cases not at international aid port – official Reuters

China’s navy comes to the rescue amid Australia’s huge failure


Myanmar shadow government drops objections to ICJ’s Rohingya genocide case Reuters. Note that “shadow government” legitimizes the junta. Meanwhile, on the anniversary of the coup:


In charts: What the data shows about India’s alarming unemployment situation


NSO Group offered ‘bags of cash’ to access cell network: Reports Al Jazeera

Transcript: India’s 2017 Pegasus Deal With Israel Involved Top Intel Leaders The Wire

Ethiopia, from The Development State to The Neoliberal State Black Agenda Report


Tory plotters know they have no obvious rival to Boris Johnson FT. BoJo has more lives than Larry the Cat:

Argentina and the IMF Turn Away From Austerity Foreign Policy

Fearing Corruption Charges, Honduran Defense Minister Requests Asylum from Biden The Intercept (Re Silc).

New Cold War

Opinion: The exit from the Ukraine crisis that’s hiding in plain sight Katrina vanden Heuvel, WaPo

Russia And A New World Order The American Conservative

The Russia-Ukraine Crisis Need Not Spiral Into War Defense One. Source not especially dovish.

Why Does Kyiv Seem So Strangely Calm? Der Spiegel

Biden Administration

The Pentagon Is in Desperate Need of an Intervention from the Top War on the Rocks

FCC Nominee’s Pledge to Recuse Herself Is Criticized by Broadband Providers Bloomberg

Scoop: Leaked document reveals Biden’s Afghan failures Axios

Psy-ops are a crucial weapon in the war against disinformation FT

Health Care

How a decades-old database became a hugely profitable dossier on the health of 270 million Americans STAT

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Repeated bomb threats rattle U.S. Black colleges and universities Reuters

Class Warfare

The $800 Billion Paycheck Protection Program: Where Did the Money Go and Why Did it Go There? NBER. From January, still germane. Handy chart:

Starbucks unions:

In a Hot Labor Market, Coercive Contracts Bind Millions to Current Job Newsweek

The ‘Great Resignation’ Is Our Chance to Change Hospitality for Good Tribune

The Fed is too late to remove the punchbowl Martin Wolf, FT. Hmm.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. The Rev Kev

      What she said was bizarre. She said that the Holocaust was not about race which goes to show you that just because you are a millionaire, it doesn’t mean that you are smart.

      1. Pat

        I wish I thought it was a start of holding those on The View accountable for what they say. Unfortunately I believe this bizarre statement was about the Holocaust and therefore will be an outlier.

      2. griffen

        She gets two weeks to think on these things and how mean and insensitive her comments truly are. Two weeks, seriously! What a horrible show.

          1. jr

            It occurred to me that a lot of people are getting their medical advice from Jimmy Kimmel and Don Lemon. Between the two of them, there isn’t enough bioelectrical neural energy to register on any known instrumentation but I’m the fool because I dare to read studies/articles by my informed betters and chart a course. F’ing zombies masquerading as imbeciles are deemed preferable to doing your own research.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s The View. She doubles down. To get to her age and not have a clue, she’ll double down. She’s at the nexus (I hate that movie too much to have meant this as a joke) of these social constructs, and to not understand them especially given her record means she’s not going to.

          And I mean she didn’t pick up on the Maus comic where the Jews are mice and the Germans are cats.

      3. jr

        I project that the hydra-like entity known as The View will eventually consume itself. At least it’s current crop of blathering professional oxygen convertors will. An absurdity like it must remain eternally extant on some level; the show is an archetype of human fallibility.

        Think of all that stupidity and power mingling together: a dark, caustic liqueur bubbling away in the cracked and battered alembics of a Behar or a McCain. Lost in the vapors of a self-referential, celebrity fueled fog traced in glittering wealth, these dim vessels stagger from idea to idea as a drunk fumbles through the sandwich bin at Wa-Wa without regard to content or sell-by date. It comes as no surprise that on occasion an especially foul prize is triumphantly waved aloft for all to see, betraying the cheap, rotted lunchmeats and cellulose laden cheeses of their innermost minds…..

        *fumbles for meds

        1. Tom Stone

          “The View” is my ex wife’s “Must See” show.
          Because the women on it are so diverse and well informed.

          1. Screwball

            Same here. That one and “The Talk.” I would have to find something else to do as I thought they both were two of the most ridiculous & cringe worthy shows on the propaganda box. Incredible how people watch that crap.

            I don’t believe in cancelling or censoring them, but if they did it to themselves, America would be better off IMO.

          2. Sardonia

            I once got in trouble with my girlfriend when I came over and saw her watching Oprah, and said, “You DO realize that Oprah is the Anti-Christ, don’t you?”

            She didn’t find that funny….

        2. Noone from Nowheresville

          @jr: ha ha ha… nice Barbara “Wa-Wa” Walters insert since the show was originally her daytime baby.

        3. adrena

          Oh, how I miss the multiple Dutch talk shows. The hot topics of the day are discussed by a variety of people from all walks of life. No topic is off limits.

      4. paul

        Reminds me if the paraphrase:

        If you’re so rich, why are you not smart

        The terrible thing is that, those sitting on a bed surrounded by well connected wealth flunkeys, there is no need.

        We are in the flunkycene.

          1. Questa Nota

            Convenient timing while following their internal zeitgeist.
            See the CNN activities in light of the NBCish The Morning Show.
            Pay no attention to the collapse in ratings and profitability.
            The new owners at Discovery will have an opportunity to pivot, or whatever the new word is.

      5. Louis Fyne

        not defending Whoopi, but I understand what she was trying to say. For her, pedantically, race and creed are different. For others (obviously) race and creed can be one in the same.

        I have empathy (not sympathy for her)

        1. Carolinian

          Right. Sounds like she was awkwardly trying to make a point that was not Holocaust denial. Of course Hitler thought Jews were a “race” but I don’t believe that’s true in reality.

        2. fresno dan

          Louis Fyne
          February 2, 2022 at 10:05 am

          We live in a world of contradiction.

          FROM the ARTICLE
          When I teach about race in American history, I always begin the lesson with a simple question: What race am I?
          “White,” my students say.
          “No, I’m Jewish,” I reply.
          Jaws drop, and a few angry hands shoot up. I call on one of the students, knowing exactly what the speaker will say: Jews aren’t a race. They’re a religion, or a culture, or a heritage, or a tradition. But not a race.
          “You’re right,” I say, “for now.” But for most of our past, I add, Jews were indeed considered a separate race. Into the 1940s, immigration authorities recorded them as a distinct racial group.
          That’s the part of history that Whoopi Goldberg missed, when she told “The View” on Monday that the Holocaust was not “about race.”
          MY QUESTION. Are Jews a race? Not now, but apparently then they were, but not now…OK, they shouldn’t have been called a race back then…but isn’t it apparent that Jews would still have been exterminated due to religion? So is an argument about race being a factor in the Holocoust missing the forest for the trees?
          But I hope the rest of us can use this moment to reflect and learn about our own racial categories, too. They are historical and cultural inventions, every bit as much as the idea of a Jewish “race” was.

          Tragically, race tricks us into thinking that our differences are biological: in other words, that they lie in our bodies. And that’s the biggest lie of all.
          But it’s all around us, and we won’t let go of it. After I have reviewed the idea of Jews as a race, I tell my class that I hope that one day everyone in America will be seen as part of the same race – that is, the human race – rather than members of different ones.
          Uh, so race doesn’t exist, but Whoopi was wrong because she said it wasn’t about race at the time. Well, the fact that Whoopi doesn’t know all the nuances about talking about race and Jews doesn’t strike me as all that significant – lots of people get it wrong, and many purposefully with ill intent. And it seems to me some people get “cancelled” because they say they don’t see “color” when judging people. And is not seeing “color” something to be strived for or not? And if not now, when?
          That sparks another round of angst, this time with a defensive tinge. Students tell me that I’m trying to “erase” their differences – or, even, that I’m engaging in “color-blind racism” myself.
          No, I tell them. I would never seek to expunge or diminish their differences, which I deeply value. But I’d like us to regard them as differences of history and culture – which they are – and not as matters of color.
          Hmmmm, OK, so we are all fundamentally human. And we have some differences – but not due to race. I can go along with that. Um, should the author be cancelled because he has engaged in “color blind racism???” To be fair, I believe race is an illusion. But I also believe there are people who believe race is real. Some (or many) of such believers in race use it to discriminate against people and put such people into groups described as “racial.” AND BTW, if you get rid of racism, who is to say humans won’t invent culturalism, or historicalism, to discriminate against certain groups???

          You could hear echoes of that frustration in Whoopi Goldberg’s comments on Monday, when she denied the racial dimensions of the Nazi genocide against Jews.
          “This is white people doing it to white people,” she said, when challenged on the claim, “so y’all going to fight amongst yourselves.”
          She was wrong about that, and – to her credit – she apologized for it. But she was right that most Jews have changed their race since that time, which has never been an option for African Americans.
          I don’t think Jews changed their race (again, an imaginary construct) but that far fewer non Jews discriminate them than in the past.
          Race makes us imagine that our differences are inherent. And from there, it’s just a short step to the idea that some people are inherently superior – or inferior – to each other. We need a new language to talk about all of this, openly and honestly. Jews aren’t a separate race, biologically speaking. But neither is anyone else.
          The only point I want to make is that so much of present day media is to fill time with arguements that ignore complexity or contradiction, and present a view (pun intended) as the ONLY correct view on issues which are fraught with unanswerable questions and irresolvable differences of values. And from this you get an outrage culture, bent on ex-communicating ANYONE who doesn’t acknowledge, accept, and promote the dogma.
          I think Whoopi took the prevailing view that I was taught when I was a child, that race was skin color and that it was simply wrong to judge (a person should be judged by the content of their character) a person by their skin color – that was racism. I just don’t think that Whoopi’s “offense” is worthy of condemination – it can be subject to disagreement, but I just don’t think her intent was to diminish Jewish suffering. If one is a scholar one can deconstruct what Whoopi said, have in published in a newspaper, and go from there. But having ever more people eaten by the cancel culture leads to an eye for an eye, and eventually totally blindness.

          1. Carolinian

            Clearly what she was trying to say is that in the here and now the treatment of black people and Jewish people is not the same whereas many of her critics want to say that it is the same. Perhaps she should have been given an opportunity to explain what she meant but the Overton window is shut tight on this topic.

            And The View is a silly show anyway where celebrities are supposed to have deep thoughts on current events because famous. Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect (and maybe his current show which i dont get) the same.

            Phil Weiss of Mondoweiss is willing to discuss the much improved status of Jewish Americans from the old Gentlemen’s Agreement days. If the above is what she was trying to say then it’s not just Whoopi.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > by the cancel culture leads to an eye for an eye

            I believe that “an eye for an eye,” Biblically, was really an attempt at proportionality and the rule of law, as opposed to honor killing and Hatfields and McCoys-style multigenerational feuding. See Lev 24:19-21.

            Actually an improvement!

      6. Wukchumni

        I could see grilling her over what appears to be an anti-semantic accusation, for about 20 minutes on both sides.

      7. deplorado

        Yes. But also, did she feel entitled to speak on the Holocaust and remove all doubt regarding her intelligence because her last name is Goldberg?

    2. nycTerrierist

      and all these years, she had a free pass for cultural appropriation!

      (her ‘Chosen’ handle Goldberg)


      1. Pavel

        Perhaps if she were really Jewish she would know that not all Jews are or look white.

        How is someone so ignorant allowed to be on a daily news show? (Though I use the word “news” loosely.)

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Feature not a bug. If they weren’t ignorant and compliant, they would need propaganda officers. Think of it like Olbermann. Despite his desperate attempts to be welcomed back into the fold at MSDNC, he is too non-compliant on his own. Maddow was much better. She yukked it up with MSDNC alums like Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan. She considered Roger Ailes her mentor.

          Then if they are dumb, it’s even better. They don’t enough to ask questions. It’s like when Jon Stewart was the most trusted newsman in the US. His interviews were the best on TV too, but he wasn’t a j-school grad. He figured out rolodexes without taking a course on it. His competition was Wolf Blitzer, Tucker Carlson, the bland talking heads, Nice Polite Republicans, and so forth.

    3. Stillfeelinthebern

      Katie in this. Mel Gibson is a “well rounded” racist.

      I love listening to Katie and Matt’s “Useful Idiots” podcast because the start is funny, yet touches many cogent points. Their interviews are always interesting.

    4. Alex Morfesis

      Whoopi to her bestie last week: it’s black history month and the corporate Karen’s have already filled up the schedule without asking my input and have slated a bunch of token do nothing’s for me to smile back at to show how we love our black history month and I don’t know if I can handle it without screaming…

      Friend: just do a tiger w thingee bad enough to get you suspended without getting fired…

      Whoopi: hmmm…well I have appropriated someone else’s culture with my name…yeah… that’s the picture…

      If you imagine anything on that show is not almost totally scripted…I have a bridge to sell you in Pittsburgh…

      1. The Rev Kev

        You can’t say that! How will people know what to think without taking their lead from The View? And I use to watch Phil Donahue all the time. Would you believe that he had the gall to oppose the Iraq invasion? Why he even had anti-war people on his show. You can’t have that. Fortunately we had the New York Times to inform us-

        1. Dave in Austin

          No good can come to me from putting in my two cents… but on Woopie….

          I’ll bet not one person in a thousand can tell me what she actually said, as opposed to the 5-6 words the Trunkationists pulled out to make an interesting outrage story. Please track down the FULL STATEMENT she said. I can pull five-or-six words out of any public figure’s utterances and make that person into anything my own mirror wants them to be.

          I looked at all the America sources, left, right and middle; no full 50-60 seconds on any of them. Eventually I found the BBC gave the whole comment she made, and from her point-of-view it made entirely good sense. To paraphrase:

          It wasn’t about race because white people were killing white people, which is true. The Jews killed in the Holocaust looked, though and acted like White Europeans. So from Whoopie’s point of view, this was whites killing whites. Now she, I thought, made it clear that the Jews were singled out because of their “otherness” and her point that this sort of killing can happen within race also- Hutu-Tutsi being a recent real try at genocide- is obviously true and we should treat it as a human problem, which I think it is.

          Was there a recognizable difference between the average Hutu and the average Tutsi? Yes. But we white people don’t call it racism because they both fell into our general category of “Black”.

          And most of the Jews I’ve known have considered themselves as part of a group linked by genes and the Jews in Europe were singled out and killed for that very reason. So, to put it mildly, they’re a bit sensitive on the issue… a whole race or group (take your choice) suffering from totally understandable PTSD.

          The “no way out” was part of the horror; being a second generation Catholic didn’t save you. One of the strangest parts of this whole tragedy is that for Jews who in the 1920s thought of themselves as a hardworking ethnic group “assimilating” into a wider Enlightenment world, suddenly neither the new “Enlightenment” Jewishness nor the old “My mother was a Jew so I’m a Jew” biblical definition worked. The only definition that mattered during the Holocaust was Hitler’s: “Once a Jew, always a Jew, and it doesn’t matter if you were Jewish by descent from your father, your mother or just one grandparent… I’m going to kill you”. So Jews have been forced by one of the great ironies of history to define themselves by Hitler’s definition. If they’re trying to kill you because you’re in some part genetically Jewish, you’re Jewish in the eyes of the Jewish state.

          For us in the white west the words “Race”, “Racism” and “Genocide” revolve around what happened to the Jews. For a Black that isn’t necessarily true. So to that degree, Whoopie was right, not perfect, not sensitive, but right.

          Imagine Whoopie’s reaction if a white person of Irish descent like me, who’s greatgrandfather was in the Union Army said “Oh, slavery… that was a long time ago and anyway, I didn’t do it”. She’d explode and act like… a Jew.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I can’t find a real transcript, but here is the auto-generated YouTube transcript. I cleaned it up a little but not much:

            00:00 Being Accused Of Banning Books
            00:04 After One In Washington State
            00:08 Pulled “To Kill A Mockingbird”
            00:13 Off The Required Reading List
            00:17 After Complaints From Students
            00:18 And Parents, Including A Former
            00:19 Black Student, Who Said It Made
            00:22 Her Uncomfortable And A
            00:23 Tennessee School Pulled The
            00:23 Graphic Novel “Maus” Out Of
            00:24 Their Lessons On The Holocaust
            00:24 Because It Contained Some Nudity
            00:25 And Some Bad Language.
            00:26 Personally, I’m Shocked Because,
            00:27 You Know, Given The Story Of
            00:28 “Maus.”
            00:34 I’m Surprised That’s What Made
            00:35 You Uncomfortable, The Fact That
            00:35 There Was Some Nudity.
            00:42 I Mean, It’s About The
            00:43 Holocaust.
            00:43 The Killing Of 6 Million People,
            00:44 But That Didn’t Bother You?
            00:45 But The Naked —
            00:49 >> I Am Not Sure They Don’t Use
            00:49 The Naked Part As Kind Of A
            00:50 Canard To Throw You Off From The
            00:56 Fact That They Don’t Like
            00:59 History That Makes White People
            01:01 Look Bad.
            01:03 >> Exactly.
            01:04 >> Maybe.
            01:04 This Is White People Doing It To
            01:05 White People.
            01:05 Y’All Go Fight Amongst
            01:07 Yourselves, But, You Know —
            01:08 >> Look At What Kids Watch And
            01:09 The Music They Listen To.
            01:09 When Proving Or Showing Them A
            01:11 Work Of History Or Art Or
            01:11 Something That Happened Is Bad
            01:15 Language Or Nudity, Turn Off
            01:16 Reality Tv, Turn Off The Radio,
            01:16 Turn Off Everything They Are
            01:17 Doing.
            01:23 These Kids Are Exposed To This
            01:23 Stuff Really Early
            01:26 In Inappropriate Situations, Not
            01:28 Ones Where You’re Learning Or
            01:28 Teaching.
            01:28 >> Yeah.
            01:29 And The Nudity Is A Drawing Of
            01:31 His Mom Who Died During The
            01:32 Holocaust.
            01:35 In “Maus” Which Is The Other
            01:36 Thing.
            01:36 It’s Just Insane.
            01:40 >> What’s Going On?
            01:41 >> It’s About The Words.
            01:43 >> It’s About The N-Word.
            01:46 A Girl Was Triggered In The
            01:47 Class By The Word.
            01:48 >> Well, If You Are Sitting
            01:48 Amongst Lots Of Students And You
            01:52 Are Reading It Out Loud, It
            01:54 Comes Up A Lot, And It Makes
            01:58 People Uncomfortable.
            01:59 >> And Especially If You Are The
            02:00 Only Black —
            02:00 >> Right.
            02:00 That’s What They Were Talking
            02:01 About.
            02:05 I Don’t Know If That Should Stop
            02:05 People From Having It As
            02:08 Reading, But It’s Stopping As
            02:09 Required Reading.
            02:10 >> It’s The Entire Bill Moving
            02:10 Through The Florida Legislature
            02:12 Right Now About Banning Any
            02:12 Conversation In Schools That
            02:13 Make People Feel Uncomfortable
            02:14 Because Of Their Race Or Gender.
            02:15 >> Right.
            02:17 >> And There’s Also In Florida,
            02:19 A Bill Banning Talking About
            02:19 Lgbtq Conversations.
            02:25 It’s Being Referred To As Don’t
            02:26 Say Gay.
            02:27 So I Don’t Know What’s Happening
            02:28 With All Of This Banning Going
            02:28 On, You Know, We Talked About
            02:33 About “Beloved” Being Banned.
            02:37 #
            02:38 >> Yeah.
            02:38 >> “Maus,” “To Kill A Mocking
            02:39 Bird,” Conversations.
            02:39 It’s Making It Very Difficult To
            02:40 Teach Kids.
            02:40 People Complain About People
            02:42 Raising Snowflakes.
            02:45 >> This Was The Plan With These
            02:45 Anti-History Laws That Started
            02:46 Being Passed.
            02:48 These Crt — Alleged Crt Laws.
            02:51 I Don’t Think People Saw Far
            02:52 Enough Into The Future.
            02:56 You Start Banning Discussions
            02:57 About Race, And Then You Start
            02:58 Banning Discussions About The
            03:00 Holocaust, And Then About The
            03:01 Lgbtq Community.
            03:05 That’s Where It Started, And
            03:06 This Was All Very Planned In My
            03:07 View, And What Bothers Me The
            03:08 Most Is People Saying, I Don’t
            03:11 Want My Children To Be
            03:12 Uncomfortable.
            03:12 Well, How About Your Children
            03:15 Being Uncomfortable In A Way Of
            03:17 Learning Empathy, And A Way Of
            03:20 Learning Sorrow, And A Way Of
            03:22 Being Able To Empathize With
            03:23 Other People’s Plights?
            03:26 I’Ve Always Said If My Children
            03:26 Are Subjected To Racism At A
            03:27 Very Early Age, Which They Are,
            03:28 Then Your Child Should Be Okay
            03:31 With Having A Little Bit Of
            03:33 Discomfort And Learning About
            03:33 The Racism That Exists.
            03:35 >> I Observe That Young Children
            03:36 Are Naturally Empathetic.
            03:37 >> Yeah.
            03:38 >> Mm-Hmm.
            03:40 >> And The Empathy Is Kind Of
            03:40 Drained Out Of Them By The
            03:42 Parents And Things That They
            03:42 Hear Out There.
            03:43 >> It’s That Song.
            03:44 The Song.
            03:46 That’s Right.
            03:48 >> From South Pacific.
            03:50 My Grandson I Remember When He
            03:50 Was Around 3 Or 4 Years Old,
            03:51 There Was A Kid Who Was In
            03:52 Trouble For Some Reason, And It
            03:53 Gives Me Chills.
            03:59 My Grandson Put His Arm Around
            03:59 The Kid, Like, I’M With You, And
            04:00 When You Talk About Empathy,
            04:06 Children Are Naturally Like
            04:06 That.
            04:07 >> It’s A Parents Issue.
            04:08 >> If You Teach A White Kid What
            04:09 Happened To His Friend Who
            04:09 Happens To Be Black, He Might
            04:10 Feel Terrible.
            04:13 About What Happened.
            04:14 That Doesn’t Mean He Feels Bad
            04:15 He Did Something.
            04:15 >> Exactly.
            04:16 >> This Is The Confusion They’re
            04:17 Creating I Believe.
            04:19 >> I Was Going To Say
            04:20 Colleges — This Started In
            04:21 Colleges And Universities, And
            04:26 Not Wanting To Make Kids
            04:27 Uncomfortable, And
            04:28 We Talked About It On The Show
            04:29 With Van Jones, And He Said, If
            04:29 I Send My Kids To School, I Want
            04:30 Them To Push Back On Their
            04:31 Beliefs, Otherwise We’re Not
            04:31 Preparing Kids.
            04:34 We’re Preparing Them For A World
            04:36 That Doesn’t Exist Outside Of
            04:36 Their Own House.
            04:38 >> If We’re Going To Do This,
            04:39 Let’s Be Truthful About It
            04:41 Because The Holocaust Isn’t
            04:42 About Race.
            04:43 No.
            04:43 It’s Not About Race.
            04:46 >> It Is.
            04:46 >> It’s About —
            04:49 >> It’s A Different Race.
            04:50 >> It’s Not About Race.
            04:51 It’s Not About Race.
            04:53 >> What Is It About?
            04:55 >> It’s About Man’s Inhumanity
            04:56 To Man.
            05:01 That’s What It’s About.
            05:01 But It’s About White
            05:02 Supremacy.
            05:03 >> But It’s Not About —
            05:04 >> It’s About Race.
            05:06 >> These Are Two White Groups Of
            05:07 People.
            05:07 How Do We —
            05:09 >> They Don’t See Them As White
            05:10 Though.
            05:10 >> But You’re Missing The Point.
            05:12 You’re Missing The Point.
            05:14 The Minute You Turn It Into
            05:15 Race, It Goes Down This Alley.
            05:17 Let’s Talk About It For What It
            05:17 Is.
            05:19 It’s How People Treat Each
            05:20 Other.
            05:20 That’s The Problem.
            05:22 It Doesn’t Matter If You Are
            05:23 Black Or White Because Black,
            05:27 White, Jews, Italians, Everybody
            05:28 Eats Each Other.
            05:29 So Is It — If You Are
            05:31 Uncomfortable If You Hear About
            05:33 “Maus,” Should You Be Worried —
            05:35 Should Your Child Say, Oh My
            05:36 God, I Wonder If That’s Me?
            05:37 No.
            05:39 That’s Not What They’re Going To
            05:40 Say.
            05:41 They’re Going To Say, I Don’t
            05:41 Want To Be Like That.
            05:42 >> Hopefully.
            05:45 >> I Don’t Want To Be Cruel.
            05:45 >> Yeah.
            05:46 Most Kids — Most Kids They
            05:46 Don’t Want To Be Cruel.
            05:48 >> No, They Don’t.
            05:49 >> We’re Living In An Era Where
            05:51 People Are Comparing Vaccine
            05:54 Cards To The Yellow Stars, The
            05:59 Vaccinations To What Anne Frank
            06:00 Went Through.
            06:01 >> Yeah.
            06:01 >> So It Is Necessary For Kids
            06:02 To Learn About The Holocaust.
            06:04 >> Learning About Man’s
            06:04 Inhumanity To Man However It
            06:05 Exposes Itself.
            06:11 I Have To Cut You Off

  1. griffen

    Dare I write…duckpin bowling. I better duck and run. \sarc

    The earnings report by google / alphabet was pretty strong. Except for slightly lower revenue (actual vs forecast) from the YTB business. They also announced a share split, 20 – 1, expected mid year 2022 is when the split should occur.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Scoop: Leaked document reveals Biden’s Afghan failures”

    Somebody is still upset that Biden shut down the Afghan war and are chucking their toys out of the pram. It was obvious at the end that the whole thing was futile and they may have just as well renamed Afghanistan as Potemkinstan. This leaking of documents is just an attempt to try and keep this whole saga going so that in future, never more will a President consider pulling out of a foreign country. A great power needs to know when it is time to cut it’s losses and even a President like Reagan was smart enough to pull out of Lebanon after all those Marines were killed.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I personally prefer to call it “Not-again?istan,” but we all know this idiocy will repeat as long as the Empire exists… It’s happening right now, of course.

    2. David

      Given the shortness of the meeting (an hour) and the number of people attending, as well as the lack of any obvious discussion, I suspect that this was largely a box-ticking exercise where various organisations were sent off to do things from an already agreed list. It’s actually highly unlikely that the meeting considered the question of Afghans wanting to relocate to the US for the first time: more probably it was decided that an already existing contingency plan should be put into action. You can (quite fairly) criticise the timing, but it’s virtually certain that contingency plans would have been drawn up long before. Looking at the list of points, it’s not possible that they could have been discussed substantively in the time available.

      It wasn’t so much a lack of preparation, therefore, as an unwillingness to recognise the seriousness of the situation, and this is an area where Biden and co can be justly criticised. That said, when to implement contingency plans is always a tricky thing to decide, and it’s clear that the administration was frightened that if it told its local staff to prepare to leave, that would be seen (rightly) as the US admitting that the game was up. And there were powerful pressures against doing that.

    3. Steve

      Agreed. However, in the case of Lebanon where the military industrial and defense contracting complex did not have a proverbial cash cow to eat off of, the decision between images of dead Americans vs future campaign contributions may have been a “political” no-brainer? Now if people like Eric Prince had been around to offer a PMC based response in tandem with other more covert activities in Lebanon, who knows?

    4. Andrew Watts

      No, no, sorry. The administration should rightfully be mocked for their failure to implement contingencies based upon what was unfolding in Afghanistan. It just shouldn’t be because some random NSC document that was leaked. And their concern for optics? Contemptible.

      The collapse of the state in Afghanistan starts in Kandahar. That’s why the enemy is trying to capture Kandahar. If Kandahar is captured, assume Afghanistan is captured.” -Commander Sarbeland Abdul Rahimzai of the Afghan Commandos

      Which is exactly what happened. There’s no ignoring the fact that Washington had an epic fail by their own metrics of creating a decent interval before their puppet regime collapsed.

  3. GM

    What We Can Learn From How the 1918 Pandemic Ended NYT. “The only thing certain is that future variants, if they are to be successful, will elude immune protection. They could become more dangerous. That was the case not only in 1920 with the last gasp of the 1918 virus, but also in the 1957, 1968 and 2009 influenza pandemics.” Let ‘er rip!

    It should be noted that the comparisons to 1918 have been a never ending source of self-defeat in the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic.

    Flu pandemics come and go. Because flu viruses are in constant flux and competition with each other, and the identity and pathogenic characteristics of each one can differ dramatically (the flu pandemics listed here were caused by H1N1, H2N2, H3N2, and then a different version of H1N1, respectively).

    In the same team people actually develop fairly good immune memory, the reason we get reinfected is that that “Influenza” is the equivalent category of “coronavirus”, not of SARS-CoV-2, and there are countless different flu strains.

    So eventually during a flu pandemic some kind of herd immunity is reached, then different strains become dominant, the pandemic one hangs around and accumulates mutations (that indeed often attenuate it over time), and it all just recedes into the background.

    What we are dealing here is nothing of the sort.

    Imagine we never had any influenza in the population, and now we have introduced it. Or malaria. Or cholera. Etc.

    That is the proper way to think about it, but this is baseline 10x worse than influenza, and will likely remain so forever.

    But it will keep diversifying and evading immunity and immune memory here isn’t even all that good — homologous reinfection is a thing with coronaviruses, it’s just that it never becomes a major factor because we have now learned that they don’t leave it much time to manifest itself on a really grand scale with their rapid antigenic drift.

    Again, we did not have SARS in the human population, now we have SARS. And “SARS” can get a whole lot worse than SARS-2. And SARS-2 can (and has been) a lot worse than Omicron.

    But the trick of presenting it as a flu that will come and go was very successfully used to deceive the public into not resisting being forced to live with SARS.

    1. Annieb

      GM: “. . . the trick of presenting it as a flu that will come and go was very successfully used to deceive the public into not resisting being forced to live with SARS.” This statement is baffling to me as a layperson. What choice did people have besides learning to live with SARS?

      And since you brought up the flu, would you care to speculate why there is no flu circulating this season? Or last season either for that matter, although my Dr speculated that was because in 2020 people were staying indoors

      1. Annieb

        My reply to GM is awaiting moderation as usual. I hardly ever write comments anymore for this baffling reason— always getting tagged for moderation no matter the topic.

        1. ambrit

          Comenting on the Internet is a Master Class in patience.
          Some venues just excise “non-compliant” comments and move on to the next shiny thing.
          This venue has dedicated moderators. They do their work, but there is a built in time lag between comment flagging and review. Give them a break, so thst they will reciprocate.
          I have discovered that Internet moderation works with a reverse “squeaky wheel” effect. Continued complaining actually extends the wait time. Consider it as a perverse incentive.
          Secondarily, much moderation is done automatically through algorithms. Certain words trigger an automatic ‘time out’ phase. Also, these algorithms are, I am told, self learning machines. They can ‘leasn’ to view a particular commenter as ‘potential trouble’ and apply stricter limits. (I have conflicting reading on this point.)
          So, hang back, put your feet up, and ride the ride.

          1. John Zelnicker

            Hi, ambrit – Hope y’all are well up there.

            Your comment is such an excellent description of moderating here that Yves ought to consider adding it to her policy statement (with a bit of copy editing).

            IIRC, Yves has actually written that the algorithm can indeed learn and treat some commenters more strictly.

            1. ambrit

              Thanks Mr. Zelnicker. We hope you are weathering this latest round of ‘heavy weather’ well. We are having pretty much continual light rain today, and probably tomorrow. I have noticed that the weather people have been consistantly underestimating the low temperatures overnight this spring. Do you see this where you are, being pretty much on the coast as it were?
              I am wondering if perhaps a certain bit of obscurity and confusion on the moderation front might be a net positive for the site. My theory being that uncertainty breeds reticence to ‘push the boundaries’ of the system.
              Your phrase “a bit of copy editing” is a masterful example of understatement. I know how incomprehensible my attempts at communication can be.
              I am my own worst enemy concerning my communications capabilities. Alas, I discovered early just how good of a critic I am. I’m also quite a good example of “what not to do.”
              Ouch! I think I just pulled my shoulder out of socket pating myself on the back!
              Stay safe there Mr. Zelnicker!
              PS: Are you preparing for an indefinite period of masking and ‘social distancing’ as we are? Consider this a “Leading Indicator” about matters Covid.

              1. John Zelnicker

                ambrit – I don’t listen to or watch the weather folks (no TV).

                I have an outside thermometer in one of the coolest spots around my house and I use that, although my daughter lets me know if the temperature is going to be extreme over the next days. It’s been quite mild around here lately with days in the 60’s and nights in the 50’s. Expecting some colder weather by Mardi Gras.

                The parades are rolling this year after being canceled last year. The first one, on Dauphin Island was last weekend.

                Your communication was excellent, as I said. There were just a few typos, nothing that interfered with comprehension.

                Otherwise, I’m up to my ears in alligators with tax season (not a complaint), so I rarely go out. Groceries, bank, post office, state store, and that’s about it and I’m always masked as well as using a Povidone-Iodine nasal spray when I come home.

                Y’all be well and stay safe.

                Edit: Well, this is my second comment to hit moderation today. I apologize to the moderators for adding to your work. It was unintentional.

          2. ChrisPacific

            I try to remember that (a) the comment sections on most sites are a toxic and pointless morass; (b) the moderation system at NC is a big part of why that’s not true here; and (c) the human moderators all have limited time and need all the automated assistance they can get.

            Put another way, the god of high quality comment sections demands sacrifices, and if every now and then one of your finely crafted missives disappears into the void, to reappear only after everybody has moved on, that’s the equivalent of sacrificing your best cow/goat/chicken to remain in good standing with the divinity.

        2. Pelham

          Same here, but I suggest you not be discouraged. So far as I can tell, most of my comments eventually get in. But even if they didn’t, I so greatly value the caliber of comments here that I don’t mind. Moderating this material is vitally important, even if the results are imperfect.

      2. Ahimsa


        Interesting long-form essay here on the significanc of the flu’s global disappearance and now reappearance in some regions:

        The False God of Central Planning

        The Mysterious Reappearance of Flu, Natural vs Vax-Induced Immunity, the Inability of Vaccines to Control the Virus, & Other Extraordinary Lessons About the End of the Pandemic (Investigative Report)

        “Colds and flus mysteriously disappeared over the past two years only to return recently in many countries, often with a vengeance. While only rarely discussed and frequently dismissed as a mere curiosity, the mystery of the disappearing flu is actually one of the most important events of the past two years. Unpacking this mystery provides deep insights into the future trajectory of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic…”

        1. juanholio

          Is Julius one of those “Substack Bois” mentioned in the linked article about “off ramps”?

          1. Ahimsa

            Adhominem is not a good look. Read the article, if you want to form a judgement. I only post links I think others would appreciate.

            The factual story of the missing (and returning) flu is a very interesting phenomenon regardless of whether his interpretation is correct.

              1. Ahimsa

                Reading comprehension:

                “The factual story of the missing (and returning) flu is a very interesting phenomenon regardless of whether his interpretation is correct.”

                And not sure what you are trying to say with your link to CDC flu site, the CDC data clearly shows 2020-21 winter season is a massive outlier.

                If you are not being willfully obtuse, then check out:

                Enter in USA 2002-2022 it’s pretty eye-catching.

                1. Carolinian

                  I followed your link but it is paywalled. However searching the author produces this link which doubtless contains his entire argument. A summary graf

                  Eradicating a relatively benign respiratory virus is therefore not a desirable goal. But making it fade into the background is a desirable public health goal so that what was once dangerous can now keep protecting us against the next one through cross-reactive immunity. Focused protection for the vulnerable, not lockdowns, was always the only realistic public health response to this respiratory virus, unless someone wanted to seize the opportunity as a way to rope the public into mass vaccinations.


                  It’s a much more elaborate explanation of objections by dissenting immunologists–yes “let her rip” among the young to keep the virus from turning into something that will threaten all via a breeding colony of vaccinated but not dying. I’m not qualified to judge but it would be interesting to have those who are comment on this. He’s saying that we should take ADE and the other objections to mass vaccination much more seriously and take Covid infection by the healthy less seriously. Which is to say that even if Long Covid is a real thing, trying to zero it out may produce much more serious consequences by interfering with the way diseases including the Spanish Flu normally work. It’s the mass administration of the vaccine that is new and a giant experiment in public health.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > This statement is baffling to me as a layperson. What choice did people have besides learning to live with SARS?

        “Learning to live with”* should really be in quotes; this talking point is incredibly virulent, and I wish I could trace it to its origins, which I doubt are organic.

        There are, or were, at least two other choices:

        1) A layered defense a la the Swiss Cheese model (the approach the Biden administration said it would take, and then did not);

        2) Zero Covid, as in China.

        Now, if we want to get semantical, we could argue that these two additional choices are also “learning to live with” Covid, but what is unique about the choice of our democidal elites have made is (a) the insistence on doing the absolute minimum, especially where profits are affected, and (b) an especially pernicious form of rugged individualism that treats public health and “freedom” as polar opposites, instead of parts of the same whole. Our elites are now attempting to bury their bad choices by claiming that — and I know this will surprise you all — There Is No Alternative.

        I hope this helps.

        NOTE * This talking point is especially vicious and reprehensible, because the subtext is: “I will live, and those inferior to me will die.”

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      GM: Thanks for these comments. All along, the elites have wanted Covid_19 to be just like the flu, something that can be ignored.

      I just read Mike the Mad Biologist on off-ramps, and he concludes on a spicy note indeed:

      “Admittedly, most Thinky Thought Leaders and Substack Bois are numerically illiterate in so many ways and would have a hard time doing this, but they really need to own their shit, and start talking about how much American Carnage is acceptable.”

      My point is that Covid could have been eliminated, that elimination is still the goal, that much of the talk of “freedom” is thinky thought (following M M B), and that the elites believe that there are no consequences. Oh, fewer waiters. And that nasty flu bug going around that may, it seems, result in brain damage.

      Should we start talking about Covid as the new tuberculosis, which still evades control in some parts of the world? Or maybe the metaphor has to be carnage.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Should we start talking about Covid as the new tuberculosis …

        I think we can regard the history of tuberculosis in the U.S. as an excellent guide to our probable future, bearing in mind that SARS-CoV-2 is far more dangerous.

    3. Larry Y

      A better example of what happens is when a novel virus (be it as “mild” as cold, flu) is introduced to formerly isolated populations, especially indigenous peoples. Hardly any encouraging examples – be it historical, or even fictional. In science fiction, this either hand-waved away, or sometimes, an important plot point…

      A more intellectually honest article would be “What we learned from the Russian/Asiatic Flu of the 1890’s”. But no, because it doesn’t offer answers many people are looking for.

      1. jhallc

        I tend to think of it as a highly transmittable Lyme Disease with all it’s long term nasty repercussions if left untreated but, with the added chance that it can also kill you today. Obviously very different diseases but, people can relate to Lyme and know that it is not a good thing to get.

    4. Ahimsa

      “Imagine we never had any influenza in the population, and now we have introduced it. Or malaria. Or cholera. Etc.

      That is the proper way to think about it, but this is baseline 10x worse than influenza, and will likely remain so forever.”

      Doesn’t the fact that most cases are asymptomatic or mild point to some kind of pre-existing immunity and contradict the notion it is an entirely novel virus to which we are immunologically naive to it?

      What basis are you using to say x10 worse than influenza?

      1. jonboinAR

        ‘Cause it’s more contagious and messes some people up (What percentage, I haven’t got a handle on.) very, very badly. Flu don’t really do that. Another one of my anecdotal examples: In 63 flu seasons I don’t know of one person to have died from the flu, although there probably was somebody, somewhere, at some point. In 1 2/3 seasons of Corona, I know personally 3 who have died, another 4, I think, whom I was may be 1 degree of separation from who died, also 2 who haven’t recovered completely after a year or so. But yeah, except for a couple of little details like that, for others that I know, it was about like the flu. So yeah, I’d say it’s a good deal worse, overall, than the flu.

        1. Ahimsa

          Thanks for your interesting anecdata though my query was directed at GM. National statistics where I live are 85% of deaths over 70 years of age while CDC claim 75% of deaths had 4 or more comorbities. And, yes, I know it’s not all about deaths. Nevertheless excess mortality here in Germany is above normal since summer even when ommiting covid deaths…

          I guess there is always the natural impulse to extrapolate generalities from our personal experiences. I don’t anyone who has died and only know one person who landed in hospital (not ICU). Certainly I know a few who seem to be slow to fully recover – though none of those used any early treatment protocols and the majority were vaccinated. I do have one severely obese friend who used an infamous horse treatment and was feeling fine a couple days later. And I am increasingly meeting people who report lingering side effects of vaccines and lockdown measures…

        1. ahimsa

          Is this data pre Omicron?

          Do you assume similar incidences of such cases going forward with omicron?

  4. Pat

    The tweet that is the source for the antidote is depressing. That Barnacle goose, I assume, has extraordinary coloring. I would love a rug whose design was based on the feather shading.

  5. jr

    “Psy-ops are a crucial weapon in the war against disinformation.”

    * cue warped merry-go-round music…

    Here is an unwalled link:

    “ But as with Covid, the most important task in psychological defence is to inoculate the population against believing false information — a job that Sweden’s new agency will also handle. This involves teaching the public how to verify information.”

    Ah, a rich slice of farce with my coffee. COVID as a force-block for authoritarianism and intelligence officers as public science educators. This guy had to be cracking up as he wrote this, he must know what it sounds like.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Liked this part:

      Private sector organisations are using a commercial offering known as “disinformation as a service” to conduct malign influence operations against their competitors.

      Otherwise known as advertising?

    2. Mildred Montana

      Two things about the FT article:

      1. The writer is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
      2. The caption from the photo accompanying the article: “Russia’s disinformation campaign ahead of the 2016 presidential election sowed doubt about US democratic institutions.”

      Sorry, I stopped reading there. It was immediately clear to me the AEI is only opposed to disinformation if it’s not theirs.

    3. Harold

      Imagine thinking you can distinguish good information versus bad information about a medical topic we as yet know very little about. The only “true” information on such topics is “We don’t really know. Need to study more.”

      It’s just a big grift.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author


      Does anybody know who owns The New York Ledger? I can’t find anything, except on an 19th century paper published by Robert Bonner, and a fictional newspaper in the TV show Law and Order.

      I would have sworn it was the vanity project of some squillionaire?

  6. Mikel

    “The Fed is too late to remove the punchbowl” Martin Wolf

    For crying out loud, either you have so many companies and individuals strung out on debt leverage that a miniscule rise in interest rates is a ten alarm fire or you have super-economy that can recover from life-changing events in mere months.
    Which is it?

    1. griffen

      One of a myriad sites that remind me each and every time I should pay to access their precious and perhaps unique content. In this instance, I’m not rooting around for the article or even a comparable account of what the author summarizes.

      Over the weekend, Yves posted a summary of the Central Bank Conundrum that was based on a UK-based view. Corporate America is addicted to the crack of low interest rates and even the negative real yield environment.

      TINA. There is No Alternative.
      CBC. Central Bank Conundrum. Oh noes, this will change life because, markets.

        1. griffen

          Point acknowledged and taken to heart. To that end, and i digress:

          Alien, scene where the crashed spacecraft is walked to and toured
          Lambert: It’s cold
          Kane: Quit griping
          Lambert: I like griping
          Lambert: Dallas, let’s go back to the ship
          Kane: We must go on…

    2. jsn

      So the first real fiscal stimulus in my working lifetime (ss card in 76) gets entangled in supply chain bottlenecks and health/fear/exhaustion related quits and the Fed chooses this moment to unwind the free money for the rich policy that’s created a bubblishous “market” simulation where Wall Street used to be right when everyone tethered to the real economy runs out of that fiscal boost.

      From the Fed’s perspective, I suppose the quits numbers look like a peasants revolt, how can they be feeding themselves! There supposed to starve if they don’t take 3 minimum wage jobs!

      I’m sure an interest rate shock will revive all the working class dead from COVID and cure Long COVID as well.

    3. Mildred Montana

      Jerome “The Procrastinator” Powell: “soon”, “still looking at the data”, “inflation transitory”, ?? ?????????.

      I believe NC has a policy against “broken-record” comments. Why not the MSM? The next thing out of Powell’s mouth should only be quoted if it announces actual action by the Fed.

      Not that I particularly care what that action might be. The Fed doesn’t control the economy as it pretends (nobody and nothing can, it’s too large and complex). It distorts it—for the benefit of the rich—and will continue to do so, like all corrupt institutions, until its inundation by the inevitable financial tsunami.

      1. Mikel

        “broken-record” comments in the MSM:

        They repeat talking points from quarterly reports that would have a smiley faced stuck on them if it wasn’t for the veneer of professionalism that has to be maintained.

        Every negative must have the appended comment along the lines of “but isn’t this the greatest BS ever!”

        The Fed is not that different with the mandatory cheeleading.

  7. Jon Cloke

    Re REMOVING THE PUNCHBOWL – it’s amazing how linear and two-dimensional the thinking of elites is, don’t you think?

    For instance the responses of the authorities to the social and economic disruption caused by the Black Death. “The authorities responded to the chaos by passing emergency legislation, the Ordinance of Labourers in 1349, and the Statute of Labourers in 1351. These attempted to fix wages at pre-plague levels, making it a crime to refuse work or to break an existing contract, imposing fines on those who transgressed.” (Wikipedia)

    As opposed to the responses of the corporate authorities to the social and economic disruption caused by COVID-19: “Yet some employers have resorted to less salutary methods to retain staff. They have ramped up enforcement of non-compete contract clauses to prevent workers from leaving for rivals offering higher wages and to send a message to their workforce to stay put. As many as 60 million Americans across income levels and occupations may be subject to a non-compete clause.” (Newsweek, 2/1/22)

    Amazon’s enforcement clauses come from a line of elite authoritarianism over 670 years old… As Marx said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”

      1. Wukchumni

        I think we’re due for a melange of merde, some of it will bear resemblance to the French Revolution, another part will look an awful lot like post WW1 Germany-which was barely touched from the war and yet defeated. Chaco Canyon and it’s over the top McMansions in the guise of Great Houses when climate change came calling looks an awful lot like our lot. A real scary part will be us adjusting to the new normal of countries that experience lengthy bouts of inflation, and Argentina would best resemble us, imagine the almighty buck being worth 1/100th of what it was worth previously, and yet things still function there, the locals being used to the game. The worst part might resemble Rwanda but substitute hand cannons for machetes. We’ve been anesthetized to mass murders, anything under double digits is hardly worth reporting these days, and even if 99.999% of us don’t know of anybody killed in such events, they play larger than life in the same way an airplane crashing and killing 138 on board makes the news and yet 138 people dying on the road every day doesn’t.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          where i live, as i keep saying, i expect to rather quickly descend into post-roman britain…with warlords, and a sort of neomanorialism.
          all my local fieldwork leads me to this conclusion, which i first arrived at just after 9-11.

          i expect the same in much of the Texas hinterlands, outside of the I-45, I-35, and I-10 corridors.
          so much depends upon supply lines…and i keep on thinking about Hurricane Rita, which slammed the ports and warehouses east of houston(some 350 miles away)…and led to my county running out of just about everything…and the local retail magnates banding together to go aroaming with pooled $ to obtain beer, lest there be riots.(came back with a gooseneck cattle trailer loaded down with more than a ton of beer)
          similarly, with the lockdowns, feb-may(?) 2020.
          there’s no wiggle room…although i’ve put the stock-up-now bug in the ear of my fave mom and pop store…cram yer garage full of TP, beer, etc.
          (all the Indian/Paki convenience store people i knew in austin did exactly that)
          but i’m the only one i know who maintains a seed vault…along with saving seeds and focusing on heirlooms….along with triple redundancy with water supply, ancient working hand tools, etc
          i’m well known for harping on the need to prepare for the trucks stopping for 20+ years…but that would be hard, and we’ve prayed fervently to Moloch, and made the appropriate sacrifices, so not to worry!

          perhaps, due to foresight like this, i’ll be in a position to be a warlord, myself,lol.
          i’d be a better one than most of the other potential candidates i know.

          1. Wukchumni

            where i live, as i keep saying, i expect to rather quickly descend into post-roman britain…with warlords, and a sort of neomanorialism.

            I could see that, as nobody really knows how to make or repair anything, heck, I could confidently state that not a single person could fix their smartphone if something went wrong on the innards. The commonest technological item on the planet, no less.

            Forging oneself into something valuable seems like the best way to go. I could confidently state that I know more about water at a myriad of altitudes locally than just about anybody, where creeks that don’t exist on maps are, along with oh so many springs and caves full of translucent liquid we crave. Hidden treasures.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > warlords, and a sort of neomanorialism

            Ties in with the American Gentry concept, but OTOH what do the gentry do when their money stops working? Hard to imagine an auto dealer morphing into, say, Roose Bolton (“A peaceful land, a quiet people. That has always been my rule”) not for any spiritual or psychological reasons, but for material reasons like skills with weaponry, choice of terrain, etc. I dunno, though. I don’t live where you do!

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              yeah…usual caveat about this place being weird.
              comes down to social habits as much as actual resources and skillsets.
              bossclass out here is habituated to command…workerclass is habituated to taking orders from bossclass.
              hence, my working life out here was fraught,lol…bosses didn’t know how to deal with me: i was excellent at getting the job done without them micromanaging(more time for hobknobbing with their class peers out front)…but that came with an independent streak and non-docility that threatened to infect others.

              those habits of command will carry over into aftertimes…as will habits about who “Owns” what….land, cattle, etc.
              i’m known among the underclass young adult cohort as a good boss…fair, caring, generous….and competent….in ways they notice…and comment upon.
              last of the infrastructure to be built is housing for them.
              feudalism doesn’t have to be authoritarian.
              a feudal socialism/anarchism will take more time and education and patience, of course.
              no one else out here, to my knowledge, is thinking in these terms.
              that alone is likely an advantage i can exploit.

      2. Mildred Montana

        As in the French Revolution, the ???????? (the rabble, the masses) will be running amok. Not a pleasant prospect, but perhaps necessary for a cleansing. I think we’re getting a foretaste of that with Trump’s legions.

      3. Count Zero

        There were further French revolutions in 1830, 1848-9 and 1870 — like the aftershocks of an earthquake. Look up Marx’s “The Eighteen Brumaire of Louis Napoleon” for a splendid account of the revolutions of 1848-9 and the 1851-2 coup that terminated them. He was very interested here in how history repeats itself — or how a whole society can remain locked in a past event, repeating a trauma like a hysteric. I think it’s the best thing the bearded one ever wrote.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Psy-ops are a crucial weapon in the war against disinformation”

    The second paragraph gives the game away where it says ‘The writer is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think-tank.’ In fact, the first sentence is psy-ops at work when he talks about the Swedish Navy hunting down a “phantom” Russian sub – but never mentions that the sounds that were being picked up were farting fish. I will state the obvious here. When a government loses trust by its people, you cannot replace it with psy-ops because it typically uses lies which, when it comes out, will erode even more trust which is kinda the glue that holds countries together.

    Want some examples of recent psy-ops? How about ‘The Russians threw the 2016 elections to Donald Trump because he is a Russian Agent’ or ‘When you get a vaccine, you can’t get sick or spread it further so everybody can go back to work’ or ‘China created the virus to wreck the rest of the world.’ And a present one is ‘Russia is about to invade the Ukraine’ which will soon be followed up by ‘China is about to invade Taiwan.’ In each case, these psy-ops fulfill a present political expediency but at the same time, they erode trust in a government which can and will backfire badly.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Psy-ops are a crucial weapon in the war against disinformation”

      This idea has been around for awhile (probably all the way back to the Creel Commission). But for a recent version, see Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, “Conspiracy Theories.” Here is the abstract:

      Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event. A recent example is the belief, widespread in some parts of the world, that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by Israel or the United States. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law. The first challenge is to understand the mechanisms by which conspiracy theories prosper; the second challenge is to understand how such theories might be undermined. Such theories typically spread as a result of identifiable cognitive blunders, operating in conjunction with informational and reputational influences. A distinctive feature of conspiracy theories is their self-sealing quality. Conspiracy theorists are not likely to be persuaded by an attempt to dispel their theories; they may even characterize that very attempt as further proof of the conspiracy. Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are explored in this light.

      Both Sunstein and Vermeule are from Harvard Law; “in 2014, studies of legal publications found Sunstein to be the most frequently cited American legal scholar by a wide margin.”

      So, great. Of course, there’s no reason to think that “cognitive infiltration” of “extremist groups” (whatever they are) is happening under actually existing neoliberalism; that would be…. a conspiracy theory. (Hilariously, Sunstein is married to warmongering loon Samantha Power, currently Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (AID), whose top recipient up to 2020 was — hold onto your hats here, folks — Ukraine. Somebody should do a yarn diagram of marriage and family ties among the Beltway elite; it would be most informative.

  9. Mikel

    “Peak levels of virus were significantly higher in the nose than in the throat, indicating a potentially greater risk of virus being shed from the nose than the mouth.”

    But feet keep dragging on a more effective nasal spray medication that could be a “vaccine” that can lay claim to actually preventing the spread of the virus.
    It doesn’t have to be mRNA to be effective. So I have to wonder if that is the hold up…

  10. Samuel Conner

    re: the memory aids — there’s some advice about this from an ancient Hebrew holy book: “write it down and bind it to your hands and forehead”.

    I find it very hard to persuade elderly friends to take notes. Am glad I have for years been writing things down in bound notebooks (one can often get those “Composition” sewn-binding notebooks cheap in quantity at the beginning of the school year); one of the advantages of doing one’s own PC maintenance it that it incentivizes record-keeping.


    I would suggest to all who are not yet seriously memory-impaired to start forming these self-protective habits early, while you are still able to remember what your habits are. It could be useful even if you dodge COVID. My elderly friends who are not in the habit of keeping notes protest against my urgings that even if they write things down, they won’t remember to look at their notes.

    An accurate table of contents in the front of each notebook is also a good idea.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I myself am a habitual note-taker and always carry around a pen and notebook but having to use notes because you have been effected by the virus? Seriously? And based on the god-awful news in that “Covid Sightings” post, things are going to get a lot worse and maybe never better. So for note-taking, this is how your day will eventually start-

      1. griffen

        I could not help but think of the Machinist, with Christian Bale portraying a sleep-deprived (mill or manufacturer) blue collar employee who is so thoroughly confused, and also confusing to his employer and his co-workers.

        In the film he would stack up post-it notes all over. That said, it was a remarkable performance from Bale.

          1. griffen

            Another good film, yes! I find movies that are historic about the space missions, such as that mission and another recent film, “Hidden Figures” fascinating in regards to the travails of launching a ship into space. I can’t speak to the historical hits or misses on either space-based movie.

            I had taped First Man before but had trouble watching parts of the film. Don’t spin the film camera(s) to make me think I’m in the zero-gravity twister!

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              “I can’t speak to the historical hits or misses on either space-based movie.”
              for Apollo 13, i can.
              my dad was there(Image Analysis), in the big room at JSC during all that.
              and i first watched that film with him.
              always a pretty distant and aloof guy, with that, he got all mystical and even kind of verbose.
              the scenes with gene kranz and mission control, especially, “yep…it was just like that”.
              hell, his house is actually in the neighborhood where they put all the astronauts’ families.
              later, going to eat, he’s pointing out which houses were in the film.
              dad waxed poetic the rest of that day…likely the most such storytelling i ever got from him at a single time.
              it was pretty cool.

      2. FreeMarketApologist

        I was trained early in college (electrical engineering) to always carry a notebook and pen, use them, and date the entries. It was principally about being able to show that you created/worked on something at a particular point in time, so you could protect your rights to anything you invented, but it’s been a lifesaver for the rest of my professional career as well (40+ years after that lesson) — I’ve found that I’m better at remembering things if I have written them down. And, I have a record that I can check if I don’t remember the details.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Having a notebook and pen was really ground into me when once working for the railways. So you would be working at your Station and a coupla railway inspectors would wonder in and say then when you were working on October 16th of two years ago, a little old lady fell down the stairs and you did nothing so explain yourself and be ready for a reprimand and fine with possible dismissal. Thereupon you whip out your notebook, turn it to that date, and read the entry where you saw her fall, asked if she was OK or needed an ambulance and being reassured that she was fine, she went on her way. Note books were a lifesaver.

    2. Wukchumni

      I’m at risk of brain fade from my recent diagnosis-and never being allowed to forget anything, i’m ready to purge some of the files upstairs as i’m running out of memory on the mainframe.

    3. David

      Although I’ve never been a hard-core Productivity enthusiast, I’ve always been very impressed by David Allen’s rule that “your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” I try to make a note of everything as I go, and my present and future live in a simple reminders program. Among other things, the awareness that you have actually written everything down is in itself a psychological relief, which means you stop worrying unnecessarily.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Composition” sewn-binding notebooks

      Back in the day when I was building websites, I had one for each project. They were invaluable, and better than anything digital, because it is still easier to sketch with pen and pencil on paper (even if the iPad and its pen are excellent, it’s still not the same).

      Perhaps I should readopt this idea for the several projects I have going….

  11. Randy

    Sorry communists, socialists, homosexuals, and the mentally or physically disabled. When the Nazis put you guys in camps, it didn’t count, because you don’t have as good pr agents.

    1. ambrit

      And, of course, the Third Reich Ministery of Information had read their Bernays and pre-positioned a Sci-Ops campaign to overcome resistance. (Back then, ‘Racialism’ was touted as an actual “science.” See, Phrenology, etc.)

      1. ambrit

        They were according to the Party Office of Racial Policy. Many of them were rounded up and “dealt with.”

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Why Does Kyiv Seem So Strangely Calm?”

    ‘Russian troops have amassed near Ukraine’s borders, but the government in Kyiv seems oddly calm and detached. Why are President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top politicians playing down the threat? ‘

    Intrepid reporters from Der Spiegel arriving in Kiev confused that the Ukrainians are not running around in a hair on fire panic because of their stories of a Russian invasion. Further confused when they see ordinary people going about their business in the streets who will not listen to their shouts about getting to a bomb shelter or grabbing a pitch-fork to fight the Spetsnaz soldiers about to parachute in.

    1. Paul Beard

      Looks like the Russians are less than excited as well. I was in the local market (Budapest great market) yesterday stocking up and there were plenty of Russian tourists enjoying themselves. I doubt they’ll find the time for a bit of invading on the way home.

      1. Janie

        You live in a beautiful city. The great market is terrific, and the Zsechenyi baths were astounding.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is Biden’s signature piece of legislation, crushing students. Why would he not fight it?

      1. Anon

        Biden has even reneged on his promise (made after he became president) to automatically forgive student loan debt held by the permanently disabled who receive SS disability. According to DOE officials I have spoken to, student loan forgiveness for the permanently disabled has not and will not happen even though Biden “wanted to do it”. So why didn’t he??? smh

        1. tegnost

          um…..ok,..something like, um, bear with me here, it’s real complicated… it goes like this, ok…the republicans are way way badder than the dems, as everyone! of course knows! , but the only way the dems can get you to understand exactly how bad the republicans are is by doing really, really bad things themselves that the republicans don’t stop them from doing! so they can say “See? Can’t you see! how bad republicans are?!!!????” and get all SMH, WTF?!?!?, and casus deplorado!?!?!? (ok I made up that last one) and if the dems did not do this you would never know how far right the republicans are so,ipso facto! the dems must! keep chasing them to the right. It’s so obvious that one has to consider it logical?… I think it’s something like that…but I can’t be sure, after all I was in college for a really,really long time…. Eons., um…ago…

          1. Anon

            Thanks for the explanation that is way too complicated for my disabled brain to comprehend. Logic was never my forte anyway. Does it mean I should stop waiting for the $600 Biden owes me? I check the mail everyday but it is not there.

              1. ambrit

                Yeah, me too. I just hope that the IRS doesn’t demand that we all declare that “Missing $600” as income on this year’s tax returns.
                Somehow, I don’t expect that we will be able to carry the sum forward as “Capitalist Gains.”

  13. marym

    David Sirota @davidsirota

    BIG SCOOP: The Biden Administration is trying to overturn a major court ruling that could help student debtors. The move could fortify the draconian bankruptcy law that Biden infamously helped his finance industry donors pass through a GOP Congress.

    On January 14, a federal judge in Biden’s home state of Delaware moved to eliminate nearly $100,000 in student loan debt held by a 35-year-old epileptic man. In response, the Justice Department filed a notice of appeal in the case on behalf of Education Secretary Michael Cardona.

    If the administration wins an appeal, it could bolster a legal precedent against millions of debtors being crushed by bankruptcy laws that Biden infamously helped his finance industry donors sculpt during his four decades in Washington.

  14. Wukchumni

    Gooooood Moooooorning Fiatnam!

    The oft heard claim was that the USA was only 3 missed steaks away from chaos, and as luck would have it the platoon had a layover in Philly and I pleaded with my young charges to go to Geno’s or Pat’s for a bovine intervention but they would hear none of it and off we marched in formation to the Golden Corral belting out cadences all the while {I don’t know but i’ve been told-for sum a buffet never gets old} and all you can eat with the idea being that on account of no doggy bags, the onus was on your stomach to attempt to put away $21.56 worth of tucker on a $14 bill. I once saw a 3 chinned woman from Saginaw sequester at least $60 worth, with the buffet restaurant accountant nervously pacing in the back room, well aware of what this could do to the bottom line.

    The idea that humans could start a stampede in a corral had never occurred to me as we’re generally pretty docile as a breed, but there you had it with some warding off attacks with a raised chair like a lion tamer-they’d obviously had experience, while others pulled off their best Rocky impersonation in beating a side of beef cleverly disguised as somebody’s mom.

    1. griffen

      A food fight on it’s own accord is not disturbing.. but a food fight at a Golden Corral is just too…. comical and laugh inducing.

      Mel Brooks couldn’t write this irony.

    2. juno mas

      Actually, the saying was something like “there is only nine meals (some say seven) between civilization and anarchy.” (Although if steaks were regular fare three of them might equal nine meals.)

      1. wilroncanada

        Time to introduce Dave Van Ronk’s rendition of “One Meatball”

        A little man walked up and down,
        He found an eating place in town,
        He read the menu through and through,
        To see what fifteen cents could do.
        One meatball, one meatball,
        He could afford but one meatball.

        He told the waiter near at hand,
        The simple dinner he had planned.
        The guests were startled, one and all,
        To hear that waiter loudly call, “What,
        “One meatball, one meatball?
        Hey, this here gent wants one meatball.”

        The little man felt ill at ease,
        Said, “Some bread, sir, if you please.”
        The waiter hollered down the hall,
        “You gets no bread with one meatball.
        “One meatball, one meatball,
        Well, you gets no bread with one meatball.”

        The little man felt very bad,
        One meatball was all he had,
        And in his dreams he hears that call,
        “You gets no bread with one meatball.
        “One meatball, one meatball,
        Well, you gets no bread with one meatball.”

  15. Ignacio

    RE: Inequitable patterns of US flood risk in the Anthropocene Nature (Re Silc).

    From the map. Higher risks in Atlantic shores than in Pacific ones. Higher risk in Ohio-Mississippi than in Missouri&tributaries- Mississippi.

    1. ambrit

      We here in the North American Deep South often joke that; “If you don’t like the weather today, wait for tomorrow. Everything will be different then.”
      We, at least, are in a sub-tropical climate zone. Heavy rains associated with weather fronts moving through are a constant. A hotter world means more moisture in the atmosphere, so far. That moisture has to go somewhere.
      I believe that chaos theory first got going when applied to weather. So many variables.
      Be safe.

      1. Ignacio

        ‘Everything will be different then’

        Indeed, I am still somehow shocked by the snow blocking Madrid one year ago now. This year it was the turn for Athens to suffer the same.

        Mediterranean snow crises…

          1. juanholio

            A sad indictment of current reading comprehension levels, or a bad faith post?

            The linked article “The End of Snow?” from 2014 predicts, “if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100.”

            1. Miles

              The end of rational thought. Think about what you wrote.

              Oh, they were only discussing high elevation ski resorts the last place to still have snow, but were wrong?

        1. ambrit

          Are we looking at the beginning of a “Silicon Age Collapse?” (The Mediterranean already had a ‘Bronze Age Collapse.’)
          What’s fascinating is how variable ‘weather’ is, and how predictable ‘climate’ is.
          stay safe!

  16. Ignacio

    RE: Closed China: why Xi Jinping is sticking with his zero-Covid policy FT. Why indeed:

    The problem for China is that they will have to go on with this year after year, lockdown after lockdown. Their hope would be that newest variants are increasingly less virulent to the point they can forget about those tight controls one day.
    This or throwing in the towel at some point.

    1. jsn

      So, isn’t that the IMF position? Let er rip or it’ll just get worse latter.

      Couldn’t best practice containment, which the seem to be doing, combine with development of preventive interventions and treatments?

  17. johnherbiehancock

    Re: A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality (PDF)

    I’m going to call BS on this one; like the John Iodiannis/Stanford “study” early in the pandemic that spread like lightning… and was later revealed to be sponsored by the Jet-Blue CEO, who was opposing all pandemic restrictions on travel, I suspect this is also paid-for propaganda, coming at a time when we’re seeing vaccines prove to be ineffective to control the spread, and those who were arguing for other interventions like lockdowns, quarantines, and mask mandates getting some traction again.

    On a sports-related message board I’ve spent way-too much time on over the years, our resident Rush Limbaugh-clone posted a link from the Daily Wire with this study, along with a “GOTCHA LIBS” comment that he was right all along that any lockdowns, masks, etc. were ineffective.

    I strongly doubt that anyone at the Daily Wire is regularly reading scholarly journals when they come across something like this… some PR flack is sending around the link, I bet.

    I read the abstract, and the “study” is just a working paper, by three PhD’s, none of whom are MDs, epidemiologists, or have backgrounds in public health; they’re all in that “health and economics” gray area, and appear to have formal training only in the economics part. They also dismissed more than 17,000 studies based on a title search, and narrowed down their focus to some absurdly small number of that subset; like 24 or something when coming to the conclusion that lockdowns, mask mandates, etc. had a negligible affect on mortality. The thesis itself may be absurd; I don’t know if they considered what could have happened if people had not altered their lives in response to COVID. Didn’t feel like reading this beyond the abstract.

  18. WobblyTelomeres

    Was reading this:

    Yet more hand wringing about Harris and poll numbers. Then this:

    For some activists, said Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, “It’s like doomsday every day… Everything is bad — let’s throw everything at the wall to maybe get the base excited.”

    Gak. I want to scream. “FFS, try doing something.”

    I walked blocks, knocked on doors, worked phone banks, sent in a little money. Not doing that again. F**k ’em all. Lying f**ks.

    1. Tom Stone

      Appointing Kamala Harris ( Or Michelle Obama) to the Supreme Court seems entirely appropriate to me.

      1. Nino

        Kamala Harris is not intelligent enough to even begin to fake that.

        She failed the bar exam the first time, and failed as a district attorney and attorney general, was only reelected when running unopposed, before being nominated and kicked by the state political machine up into the next identity politic sinecure.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Kleeb mentions “the good things” not exciting voters. I swear to god none of these people went to kindergarten. Everytime one of these dips has this kind of line, they should be asked what the point of the three little pigs was.

      The new Team Blue slogan should be, “Build Back on our house of sticks”.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      made a superfast run to the one grocery store this am, for to stock on Bored-Food for this little ice age.
      dude whom i know to look at, but has never spoken to me, made a big deal about saying hi, using my name.
      he’s running for county commish for my pct.
      wanted my vote.
      knows that i’m influential(first i’ve heard about this,lol)
      guy running agin him is a mighty righty crazypants, so this dude gets it by default anyways.
      my point: i’ve never been approached in person like this by someone running for office.
      out here, county does dirt road grading(pretty reliably and well) , helps city maintain the dump, and helps fund the volunteer fire department.
      that’s pretty much it…so i was at pains to capitalise on this encounter with a grievance or ideas.
      had this been someone running for my us congresscritter(Texas’ 11th distrcit) or even for state leg…i’d have given them an earful, extemporaneously and at length.
      i expect to never encounter any of my congresscritters…i don’t have money, and wouldn’t give them any if i did.
      but also, they “represent” hundreds of thousands of people…so there’s no way, no matter their intentions.
      my core point: polity size matters.
      end rambling rant.

      1. ambrit

        All politics is local. A verity.
        The County Commission has a lot to do with your quality of life. Lever this.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          no doubt,lol…if only i could figger out how.
          i’m not being hyperbolic when i say that the comish court doesn’t do very much.
          we’re that low a population…3/4 of the people in the county live in the one city.
          that leaves about 1100 of us in the county proper.
          nothing much to do but keep the dirt roads passable.

          told wife about this encounter, and when i got to the part of me being influential, she laughed…a little too uproariously, perhaps.
          i mean, i’m a frelling hermit…rarely leave the farm.
          speak to geese more than to humans.
          i see the 5 “neighbors”, the feedstore denizens, the people at the beer store, and that’s pretty much it.
          haven’t written a letter to the editor in maybe 6 years.
          maybe it’s that folk devil thing,lol.

          1. ambrit

            You could set yourself up as a Merlin to some Arthur Pendragon.
            Plus, don’t forget the ‘power’ of the old Pennsylvania brauchers.
            Our present day Public Health Officials are now acting like Witch Doctors. Why not give the people the “real” thing?
            Now that I think on it, today’s public health strategies are actual conjurations by Names. “And the Heirophant intoned the fearful name; “V-cc-n-!” The faithful cried out in fear and awe. The scoffers were subjected to frightful tortures and shunning. Thus was the Empire saved from the foul pestilence.”
            Stay safe! Stay sane!

  19. bwilli123

    On NSO spyware and the USA clamping down
    “Washington knows it cannot stop the development of spyware – and, in any case, it has no interest in undermining this burgeoning industry. After all, it wants these tools for its own spying operations, both against rival states and for internal repression of dissidents.
    But what it can do is take greater control of the cyber weapons industry so that the US gets to decide who has access to the best spyware, and build in technological safeguards to prevent offensive software from being turned against the US itself.
    Professions of concern about human rights violations and invasions of privacy will keep dominating headlines. But the real battle will be for who emerges as the global spymaster.”

  20. Wukchumni

    Now that’s a BIG shock! World’s longest lightning bolt lasted for 8.5 seconds and stretched more than 477 MILES across the skies over Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi – 37 miles longer than the previous record Daily Mail
    That’s nothing, Chuck Norris once karate-chopped a fellow across 4 states.

    Seriously though, I have a great respect for lightning and as much as we like to think it only hits at the highest points, it doesn’t do that, more random. Lightning hit a tree in between cabins in our community about 5 years ago and the chunk excised by high voltage was 6 feet long and a few feet wide.

    You could see about 40 feet up where it had hit…

    The 4 lightning strike fires that got the 88,000 acre KNP Fire going last September were in the middle altitudes.

    1. wilroncanada

      In about 1977 lightning struck a house around the corner from ours in downtown Victoria. Flashed down the chimney and set fire to the wood floor in front of the fireplace.. Just missed the lady of the house. A few months later, the erupting volcano at Mount St. Helens in southern Washington State shook the whole city,

  21. Wukchumni

    99 million-year-old flowers found perfectly preserved in amber bloomed at the feet of dinosaurs CNN
    That’s way cool…

    Some earth altering event took down whole forests of large Kauri trees in the north of the North Island about 45,000 years ago, burying them in bogs and preserving the wood & Kauri gum that every Kauri secretes in it’s root system.

    Before petrochemicals came along, this Kauri gum turned out to be one of the best natural furniture varnishes when distilled into liquid and there was an entire industry around digging it up out of the ground (capitalism has reversed itself-the trees are in great demand-the gum not so much) around 1900.

    It is essentially amber-the Kauri gum. It makes a fine fire starter too.

    A stuck insect:

    If you’re ever in NZ in the north of the North Island, please visit the Kauri Museum…

  22. Peerke

    Lambert you may be interested in this. The Grauniad reported on the Covid human challenge paper you discussed with the following headline: “ Exposure to one nasal droplet enough for Covid infection – study”. See link below. Frankly I am gobsmacked that the headline is their key takeaway. Not sure what it actually tells us about that mainstream media organ.

  23. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Pentagon Is in Desperate Need of an Intervention From the Top

    The whole point of keeping the majority of America’s Pacific forces dispersed outside the first island chain is to preserve their striking power. Everybody inside of that area is merely target practice for the PLA/N. Dispersing even more forces across a wider area only gives China more targets to bombard and the chance to inflict more casualties. Furthermore, it makes communication and the massing of said forces more of a challenge.

    Maybe somebody who doesn’t have any experience in war shouldn’t be involved with planning and organizing one with China? Maybe, just maybe, these civilians like the author, have no idea what they’re talking about. The last twenty years of the American experience in the sandbox would seemingly confirm that notion.

    1. Stephen T Johnson

      They lost my interest when they got to “The US needs to spend more on defense” or words to that. effect. I can believe that the money isn’t going to the right place(s), but that there isn’t enough of it?….no. Just no.


    2. Cat Burglar

      That one smelled funny to me, too.

      It also seemed odd that the goal of the force posture change was just to make the China leadership think that victory would not be easy or probable — would it be OK if their victory were difficult or less probable? So the best outcome this guy can think of is still defeat? Coming from an AEI flunky and former John McCain staffer (how much did he have to do with McCain’s Maidan overreach?), that is pretty weak tea. And expensive at that.

      There is confusion and conflict among the policy-making funders; they are fighting over where and how to enforce US primacy. Is it the Mideast, against China, or against Russia? Resources seem to be limited, so they are duking it out with each other over the size of the pie slices.

      Like you write, it seems like another “Operation Provide Targets.” How seriously can you take a bellicose China policy by a country suffering inflation because Chinese products are not being shipped here fast enough, whose military hospitals are totally dependent on Chinese antibiotics? The lack of coherence is so marked, it makes you wonder if the entire “competition with China” policy is just a hoax — it is that bad.

  24. Wukchumni

    When I read Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies about 20 years ago it blew my mind as he had clearly fixed blame in the past on it, but lets face it most everything that took down societies in the past was mere child’s play in terms of complexity.

    How many of Tainter’s 11 factors in past collapses can you pin on the entire world now?

    Resource depletion
    New resources
    Insufficient response to circumstances
    Other complex societies
    Social dysfunction
    Mystical factors
    Chance concatenation of events
    Economic explanations

    An excellent 51 minute interview with Joseph Tainter:

    1. Alphonse

      That is not a list of factors leading to collapse. That is Tainter’s taxonomy of existing explanations of collapse, all of which he finds inadequate.

      For many of them, his objection is that the factor is not a reliable predictor. For instance, the Roman empire fought of stronger barbarian incursions before falling to weaker ones. Why the difference? Similarly, class conflict and corruption are persistent features of societies, so how can they explain why collapse happens when it does?

      Tainter’s answer is that as a society faces challenges, it becomes more complex. At first, the benefits of this complexity are great relative to its costs. But complexity almost never decreases. Over time, the returns on complexity diminish until a point is reached where, for a subset of the population, the returns on complexity go negative – at which point people may choose to defect to a simpler society. For instance, they might embrace barbarian invaders rather than continue to pay taxes to Rome for an overweight military.

      Complexity is basically one-way road to eventual collapse. But there is one thing that can turn back the doomsday clock: a new energy source. “Energy” here could mean such diverse things as neighbouring kingdoms t be conquered and looted, America’s western frontier, or fossil fuels.

      He only alludes to it, but there is a class conflict aspect to this. Complexity tends to mean more administrators in the cities, paid for by peasants or the working class. Administrators won’t defect because they rely on the system, and will block reductions of complexity that could be beneficial. So it is the peasants or workers who are most likely to defect.

      Tainter doesn’t claim that collapse is a good thing, but he does say that it is often a choice that people perceive (accurately or not) as being less bad than the status quo. But it is a choice that sometimes cannot be made: if the society is in competition with neighbours, attempts at collapse will simply result in being taken over, and complexity will remain high. In such circumstances, the result is increasing immiseration of a population with no way out of a broken system. In a globalized world, he says, no country can collapse on its own: we can only collapse if we all do it together. (I’m not completely sold on this. It seems to me we have seen a number of territories collapse.)

      I think this needs to be put together with the work of Peter Turchin. Turchin is a mathematician who went looking for patterns in history. What he found is factors that predict instability and crises. Chief among these is elite overproduction. When a society produces too many elite aspirants for too few elite positions, the excess elites are liable to try to overturn the system. They often do that by forming an alliance with the working class or peasantry against the existing elite. Of course if they succeed and replace the existing elite, their working-class allies are usually out of luck.

      Over a decade ago, looking at the huge numbers of students spilling out of American universities, Turchin predicted that the 2020s would the next period of instability.

      When you combine these in the modern context, the risk factors look pretty stark:

      – Massive elite overproduction (producing wokeness, among other things)
      – Working and middle classes on the road to immiseration
      – High institutional complexity (e.g. health care and universities dominated by admin costs, finance, high dependency on ridiculously complex and fragile technology stacks)
      – Declining energy (peak oil, resource exhaustion)
      – International competition and crises creating challenges that push complexity ever higher

      I have podcast episodes giving short (not at all chatty, about 13 minutes each) outlines of Tainter and Turchin.

      I have only started listening to early episodes of the collapse podcast you link to, but I must say the parts I heard were pretty good.

    2. Maritimer

      And, day by day, we pore more $$$$$$$$$ down the rabbit hole of Science making things even more complex. Loved the story yesterday of the 9000 species of trees which have, so far, escaped the ravages of Science. Good for them.

      The story today: A Facet of Late-State Capitalist Failure: Operational Breakage – 02/02/2022 – Yves Smith seems related.

      Personally, a number of years ago, I designed my life to limit transactions with the increasingly complex and rapacious Economy.

  25. McWatt

    Our free Government issued Covid tests arrived today. Any guess as to where they were made?


  26. Cat Burglar

    The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, in the Der Spiegel article, gives the figure of 52 Russian battalion battle groups (at a strength of about 800 soldiers each) near the borders of Ukraine — so, about 41600 troops total.

    Commenter Gulag cited an analyst who put it at 60 to 90 battle groups (48000 to 72000 troops).

    That is against the 70000 to 127000 troops claimed by “officials” said to be in the USG, or NATO, or NATO member governments. (An earlier Der Spiegel article says that the original source of the notorious 100000 troops claim was a confidential NATO briefing by CIA chief Avril Haines — remember, the earthy crunchy community activist that owns a local bookstore and took a job heading an agency that tortures people and destroys the evidence to avoid prosecution?)

    But here we have an interested official willing to go on the record about Russian troop levels — and it is a low-end estimate. If the USG and NATO want to be taken seriously, somebody needs to go publicly on the record and present evidence, otherwise I think we have been had. Next they will tell us Putin will order Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction fired at Ukraine from a North Vietnamese torpedo boat by Arab terrorists.

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